Sunday, January 24, 2021

“Barcelona have finally found an Iniesta replacement” – Expert

Barcelona finally completed the signing of Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool on Saturday, after a long-drawn saga. Sky Sports expert Guillem Balague feels that he could be the heir to Andres Iniesta’s throne.

Barca’s official website announced that the Brazilian has signed a five and a half year deal at the Camp Nou. The Catalans had three bids rejected for the player in the summer, before Liverpool finally relented.

It is the second most expensive transfer of all time, trailing the whopping amount of £198m paid by Paris-Saint Germain for Barcelona’s Neymar last summer.

The transfer will also break the record for a player sold by an English club, with Barcelona paying around €120m up front and the remaining €40m in add-ons. He will also be Barcelona’s record signing, at €15m higher than Ousmane Dembele.

Coutinho arrived at Liverpool in January 2013 as a young player with a lot of potential. During his time at the Anfield, he built a reputation as an explosive player who could create something out of nothing. The Brazilian leaves the Anfield having scored 54 goals in 200 games for the Reds, though he didn’t win any silverware.

According to Sky Sports’ Spanish correspondent Guillem Balague, Barcelona view Coutinho as a potential long-term replacement for the legendary Andres Iniesta, who is entering the last stage of his playing career. Balague believes that the 25-year-old will replace Iniesta, who has been linked with a move to Chinese Super League.

Balague said: “Iniesta is getting old. It has been suggested that this is his last season at Barcelona with huge offers on the table from China.

Barcelona needs that type of quality in midfield. Coutinho is not Iniesta yet, in fact, they seem him as more of a forward at the moment, but he can develop the skills needed.”

Guillem Balague believes that Coutinho is the heir apparent for Andres Iniesta

“At the beginning, Coutinho won’t have many defensive obligations without the ball but he’ll have to learn those because they see him, in the medium term, as a midfielder.

They think that for him to do so, he will have to understand the positional game of Barcelona, to do a bigger shift without the ball. At the moment what they need straight away is a replacement for Neymar, which they did not get [in the summer].”

Author’s Take –

I believe the Brazilian would be a huge success at Barcelona. Coutinho’s style of football will see him fit well in Barcelona’s midfield. With  Iniesta entering the last stage of playing career, the Blaugrana can now afford to rest him.

Coutinho can offer Barcelona what Iniesta does for them. He can tick all the boxes and can control the ball in the middle of the pitch. The ex-Espanyol midfielder can build up the play from behind and can improve their build-up significantly.

The Iniesta era may be coming to an end

Termed the “Little Magician” for his vision and passing, he is really quick and is always looking for chances to take on the defenders.  The Brazilian has got some real magic in his feet and can strike the ball well from distance. His long-shots have earned him critical acclaim in the Premier League.

Only 25 yet, he could be part of the Barcelona midfield for many years to come.


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